Visitors could spend a week at the Delaware beaches and dine at one of SoDel Concepts’ restaurants each day. That’s because the hospitality group owns 10 eateries, from Lewes to Fenwick Island.
While the company has never shied away from rapid growth, it’s been on a fast track since 2016, when a second Matt’s Fish Camp opened in Lewes. In 2017, a second Bluecoast Seafood Grill + Raw Bar opened in a new building in Rehoboth Beach. During that time, the company also took over The Clubhouse at Baywood, the restaurant and banquet facility on the grounds of Baywood Greens Golf Course in Millsboro.
The team accomplished all of this while coping with the sudden loss of the well-known founder, Matt Haley. Haley, who’d just received the James Beard Foundation’s philanthropy award, died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash in August 2014.
Led by Scott Kammerer, who became the company president, the managers and chefs kept the business
running smoothly. In Haley’s honor, SoDel Concepts started SoDel Cares, a foundation that donates to causes that improve the lives of local children, seniors and others who are at risk.
Philanthropy is also part of each restaurant’s mission. “We partner our restaurants with nonprofits, so they can forge relationships with the people in need,” says Nelia Dolan, the director of marketing. “We provide opportunities for our SoDel family to be active in our communities in a positive way.”
The company engages with the community in other respects. “Delaware’s size lets us build one-on-one relationships with the governor, U.S. senators, local representatives, educators and our local and state police force,” says Kammerer.
SoDel Concepts’ catering division, Plate Catering, has handled the governor’s Delaware Day dinner four times, and the company’s chefs participate in the annual Taste of Delaware event, hosted in Washington, D.C. by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.
Part of SoDel Concepts’ success is its devotion to employee development. An in-house boot camp series covers subjects relevant to the industry. Last year, the company held a leadership conference for the staff. SoDel Concepts also funds continuing education opportunities in such areas as wine and sustainability.
“I enjoy our employees’ individual successes as much as I do my own,” Kammerer says. “That is what drives us.” As a result, don’t expect SoDel Concepts to stop at 10 restaurants.